The Aztec Eagles...

...The Forgotten Allies of the Second World War, from Fonthill Media

Title: The Aztec Eagles
Author: Walter S. Zapotoczny

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-747-1

 

A really interesting new book from author Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr. and Fonthill Media. I have had an interest in WW2 since a very young age but still enjoy discovering stories I knew nothing about beforehand. Such is the case with this one. I did know about the involvement of a Brazilian contribution to the Allied war effort, in Italy, but I didn't know that Mexico had provided an Air Force unit which served in the Pacific, in the Philippines.
The book opens with the background to the story, looking at the relationship between Mexico and its' larger neighbour, the USA. Those relationships have been, shall I say 'awkward' over the years, and for anyone seeing the present day press coverage about President Trump's 'Wall' will know it continues. So the Introduction provides some interesting background to that relationship around the time of the start to WW2. What it goes on to tell us is the story of about 300 Mexicans, including some 38 pilots, who volunteered to fight in support of the Allied side. They were rewarded for volunteering, such as a school being built in one of the men's home villages, and they were to be trained and equipped in the USA. They went on to fly and maintain the P47 Thunderbolt as the 201st Squadron of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force, assigned to the 58th Fighter Group of the 5th Air Force. The various chapters cover the training in the USA for the different specialisms required by all the parts of the team, and how they still had to overcome some discrimination, though they did. The unit completed their training and are moved to the Philippines for more flight training and on to detailed accounts of their missions over Luzon and then Formosa. There is also a section of archive photos to illustrate the story.
At the end there is an account of the Hero's Welcome they received on their return to Mexico and how their contribution had helped improve relations with the USA and to modernise the Mexican Air Force. A series of Appendices give additional detailed information, including a record of awards to squadron members and a roll of honour for those who lost their lives in service with the 201st Squadron. A very interesting read and filling a gap in our knowledge about another of the countries who fought as part of the Allied cause in WW2.

Thanks to Fonthill Media for our review copy.

Robin